I feel certain that very few of us undertake the work we do simply to receive praise and/or approval from those around us….but nevertheless it always makes us (or should make us) feel good about ourselves and what we might have achieved.
Sadly in today’s world, criticism comes along far more easily and readily than praise.
As Christian men and women, particularly in the roles that we have chosen to undertake, our words and attitudes can and do have a powerful effect on people. My new Assistance has certainly found that to be true here in Northern Ireland even in the short time that she has been with the Fishermen’s Mission.
It has been wonderful to see her grow in confidence simply because she has received encouraging words from some of the people she serves daily. Contra-wise I’ve seen her reactions to those who choose only to complain and criticise.
The Bible holds many examples of words and attitudes affecting people in major ways.
John Ch 8, the woman caught in adultery being a case in point. The Pharisees immediately got on the attack quoting the Law of Moses, that the woman should be stoned…..! A harsh non-forgiving, condemnatory attitude…… How different was the attitude of Jesus! Looking at the woman with compassion, He said, “I do not condemn you… go now and leave your life of sin.”
Lifted….redeemed…..empowered, – reading that account you can’t help but believe she spent the rest of her days trying to live up to Christ’s view of her.
The mandate to ‘encourage one another’ and ‘build each other up’ is woven throughout the New Testament. ALL of us need reassurance and appreciation. Yet how often do we pocket the praise we should pass on to others, or sidestep the practical help we could offer to open the way for them to succeed?
Maybe it is because we are simply lazy or selfish, or that we fall into the habit of taking people for granted. Too often it’s just so much easier to find fault! We can underestimate the impact our words and attitudes can have on another person, or we assume our approval is obvious. Are we afraid our approval might be misconstrued or cause pride in them?
Jesus, when he hailed Nathanael (John 1: 47) didn’t hold such fears. “Here is a true Israelite in whom there is nothing false”, declared Jesus. What a compliment!
Is it not true that more people die of broken hearts than swelled heads? As we come alongside people, let’s ask God each day for the opportunity to offer genuine praise to someone and further, to ask him to use us to come alongside them and encourage them towards their goal.
As I penned these words that wonderful Wesley hymn came to mind, words which I leave you with:
All Praise to our redeeming Lord…
The second verse: He bids us build each other up, and, gathered into one, to our high calling’s glorious hope we hand in hand go on.
Wesley concludes with this final verse:
And if our fellowship below in Jesus be so sweet, what heights of rapture shall we know when round His throne we meet!
One final word: AMEN!
Maurice S. Lake
Mission Area Officer NI.